On 31 May 1918, the German army launches a sudden attack near the Forest of Retz near Ploisy in the north-east of France. It is the last year of World War One, and the Germans are desperately trying to beat the Western Allies.A British blockade is crippling the German economy. Those back at home are suffering shortages of fuel and food. The German Empire faces starvation and defeat.As the French units at Retz try to resist the onslaught, they are joined by reinforcements. Among them is a new tank: the FT. Compared to the giant, lumbering British tanks that have been used with mixed results for the past 18 months, these are tiny. There is only room for two people inside them.But they are remarkably effective. The 30 tanks rushed to this battle help to push the Germans back. The tanks only stop advancing because the accompanying infantry cannot keep up with them.At the site of this action, a century later, there is now a plaque, commemorating the first use of what is arguably the ancestor of every modern tank.
The North Weald Airfield Museum displays items that show the active service life of the airfield between 1916 and 1958 when the airbase closed. The museum is situated in what would have been the old station office for the airfield. It's been some years since I've been here so I thought it was well overdue a return visit. As usual, I went camera hand and took a load of photos, some of which are shown below. Outside the entrance is a large memorial stone donated by Norway in recognition of the use of the airfield by the Royal Norwegian Air Force that was based here during World War II after the occupation of Norway by Germany.The Norwegen War Memorial outside the MuseumInside the museum, there are five main rooms dedicated to different periods of airfield history. The first room looks at the history of the airfield for WWI right through the interwar period. There's a heavy emphasis on the fight against the Zeppelin raids and the development of tactics to deal with this new weapon of war.WWI posters portra
I've been away on yet another short weekend trip, this time down to 'Hells Corner' in sunny Kent. We had to dodge a few showers but on the whole, the weather was pretty good and we had a great weekend. We have been taking full advantage of our English Heritage membership, re-visiting sites we haven't been to in several years. The weekend started with a relatively short trip over to Rochester and from there we travelled on to Dover Castle and the coastline of the Cinque Ports. The 12th Century keep of Rochester CastleThe internal floors are missing, but the walkways through the walls are still accessible.The view from the top is stunning, especially when the sun is shining. This is the view across Rochester towards Chatham and the building in the foreground is Rochester Cathedral. Another view of the Castle, this time from outside the curtain wall. Then on Monday, we drove down to Dover for a WWII weekend inside arguably Britains most important castle. Dover castle had a special WWII themed
I had organised Wings of War for this week at the club, I wasn't sure how many would be playing but I have more than enough to let vast numbers play, another in with two feet episode. At the end of the day it was only Andy and myself, I have a number of 1v1 scenarios and chose 'The Rookie'. The idea behind this is that a couple of veterans have taken a new member to the Staffel/Squadron up for a taste of what it is like over the front, they of course have to babysit him and make sure he gets back for ham and eggs or whatever was served up in 1916. I would take the Germans with the green pilot, the flight consisted of two Albatross DIII's and one DVa, the new boy being in a DIII, Herman Goering would be leading the flight. Being a rookie meant the youngster had not yet mastered the Immelman turn and his shooting was not up to standard but the two aces in attendance should keep him safe. Andy for the RNAS had one regular pilot and two aces flying Sopwith Camels.No, this way!Dogfight.The German flight was attack
I did a roadtrip last year (2018) with friends to visit Little Wars Melbourne. An absolute blast of a trip too and LWM is such a fun day. While I was there I saw a game table for Wings of Glory that seriously blew me away. It was built on a base of interlocking foam […]
The Family and I went away last week as it was the school half term break. Thankfully it wasn't as cold as it could have been for the time of year and we managed to make the most of the trip, despite the fact that many of the museums I wanted to visit were closed for the winter! Fortunately, the Mucklebrough Museum was open and I was given a day pass by the wife to visit it while she and the youngling went to a nearby zoo.Concentrating while taking a selfie! I'm very happy in this picture...honest. Russian T34 & T55 tanks with a British A34 CometThe Artillery HallThe museum also has an excellent gallery of models and military diorams88mm FLAK37 German Anti-Aircraft gunCanadian 'Grissley' ShermanIf you are ever in the area this place is well worth a visit. Some of the exhibits are a little cramped but the collection is very impressive none-the-less.
Four Rejects got together for a WWI battle last Sunday, using Posties 6mm figures.It was a very tense affair the whole way through, infact it was one of those games were itdidn't seem to matter who won.Postie reffed the game I played the French, Richard and Surj were the Germans.The Battle of Guise 29th August 1914This is Posties interpretation of a small part of the battle using regiments that were either there or close by.To win the game Postie informed us, certain strategic landmarks of the battlefield were worth points. At the end of the game. the points would be added up and the winner declared. It didn't matter about losses, only the landmarks.......OOBGerman2nd Army - Gen von Bulow7th Corp - Gen von Einem13th Inf Division - Gen Lt von Dem Borne25th Brigade IR 13, IR 158, 3 Battalions of each26th Brigade IR 15, IR55 3, Battalions of each14th Inf Division - Gen Lt Fleck79th Brigade IR 56, IR57 3, Battalions of eachFrench5th Army Gen Lannezac18th Corps - -Gen de Maud'huy35th Inf Division - Gen Marjou
The 'Sport' bonus round has given me more headaches than any of the others. I have a moderately sized lead mountain at home (or so I keep telling the wife) but despite rummaging through it several times I couldn't find anything that I could shoehorn into this category. Then I remembered a model I had seen in Wargames Illustrated a while back and I started hunting... Lo and behold it was one of their Moments in History specials, and they still had some in stock.The Christmas Truce of 1914 has been popularised and mythologised so much that the story has taken on a life of its own. It has come to symbolise the humanity of the ordinary soldier in the midst of an inhumane war. But the truth, like most history, is a little different. Unofficial truces - where local units allowed each other to bury dead or rescue wounded - were part of the live-and-let-live attitude most prevalent in the early part of the war. But December 1914 was different. Troops on both sides were coming to terms with the realisation that the wa
On Sunday I joined the Rejects for a very special commemorative game. Stuart called me about this a couple of weeks ago and I immediately said I was available. Most of the guys were able to make it for this game and Postie asked me to make the arrangements for us to participate in the silent reflection scheduled for 11am. A full write up of the game with pictures is below but as this was a commemorative game I would like to start with a couple of dedications. Stuart in particular dedicated this game to the memory of his Great Grandfather, Private James Till of the Royal West Kent Regiment. Private Till died at the young age of 30 somewhere on the Western Front in France in July 1917 and Stuart is very fortunate to have some family memento's that provide a very direct link to the war that ended exactly 100 years earlier. Embroidered silk postcards were one of the most popular ways for soldiers to send their love back home. Originally hand-embroidered by women in France and Belgium, the postcard
When Postie suggested putting on a WWI game on Remembrance Sunday, both Lee and myself were a little concerned. We didn't want the game to make light of the special Centenary commemoration, thinking some people would think it was in bad taste?We arrived at the Shed O War and Postie handed out the info above and below about his Great Grandfather. The little booklet was sent to his Great Grandmother, informing her of her husbands death.Private James Till 6th Battalion Queens Own ( Royal West Kent regt) was killed somewhere if France on Tuesday 17th July 1917.It was quite a poignant start to the day, bringing home that personal side to the war that you don't usually tend to think about. I for one and none of the other Rejects had never seen a WWI death notice, I don't know what I expected perhaps a telegram or letter of some kind?Postie also had a large collection of these postcards that James had sent to his family from the trenches. I took a photo of just four of them, the bottom one, Kisses for my Darling, wa
If you have a moment, please check out the concluding chapter of our 5-part video series focusing on Saskatchewan's involvement in the First World War:Saskatchewan Remembers.
Today of course is Remembrance Sunday and this year of course is a very special occasion as it marks 100 years since the guns fell silent. I was going to write a long post about the armistice but nothing I have written so far seems to do the subject justice. So Instead I'll just quote the exhortation given at all remembrance ceremonies. "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them."
Last week the wife and I went out for the day and after a bit of wandering we ended up at Colchester. We had a very nice afternoon wandering around town, browsing the shops and exploring the Castle Museum and next door at the Hollytrees Museum. The latter is set inside a Georgian Town House in the grounds of the parkland directly adjacent to the Castle Museum. Somehow we have missed this when we visited in the past but this time we decided to make the short diversion inside. The varied collection includes domestic artefacts from across the ages, a modest WWI collection and a small but interesting collection of Toy Soldiers. I was of course very interested in these although I have to say their position in a ground floor cabinet did make looking at them difficult. In the end I had to lay on the floor to get a better view (much to the horror of my wife). The undignified position did give me a much better view of the figures although my poor wife's embarrassment was greatly increased when other visitors had
I usually have a range of choices for Living History events that I can go to each year. I never make it to all of them and as I drag my family along with me we try to vary which events we attend from one year to the next. This year I have missed all the usual events over the summer (including the War and Peace Revival show) so this weekend we decided that come-what-may we would go to the Odyssey show. Its been a couple of years since I last attended Odyssey and I'm glad we made the effort. The show is a multi-period event with groups depicting everything from ancient Greeks, medieval knights, English and American Civil Wars, WWI and WWII and even some later conflicts such as Vietnam. As always I went a little snap-happy with the camera but here is a small selection that you may find interesting.A row of American Half TracksA Vietnam era HueyA display showing of the work of RE Bomb Disposal in WWIIThe 1942 Steyr Staff Car of General Hans-Jurgen van Arnim, captured by the British when the Germans trapped in Tun
On Sunday I was treated to a day out with the family to visit the Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome. I've wanted to come here for a while but the weather always seemed to be bad, or we were too busy, so its taken a while to finally happen. I wasn't ...